Alright,
it’s time for the 7th annual ‘Top 8’ list. 2015 has been another great
year for amazing cinema, and has seen the release of a few movies that
are actually now all-time favorites of mine. Just like the last few,
these 8 are in no particular order, unless I mention underneath that
it’s my ‘favorite of the year’ or whatever. If a movie is in the top 8,
it either entertained the hell out of me, moved me in a profound way,
or made me think about it long after I left the theater. It was tough to
narrow it down from the initial 12 or 13 movies it was at before, but I
made sure to put an ‘honorable mentions’ section underneath. If you
feel the same way about some of my picks, or disagree with me and think
I’m an idiot for one or another, let me know! I always love talking
about why people pick their favorite movies, so shoot me a message about
it. Also, I haven’t seen The Revenant, Room, or Alvin & the
Chipmunks 3: The Road Chip yet, so they won’t appear on this list.
Alright, here we go…

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The
Martian is an important movie. Not only because it’s incredibly
gripping, hilarious and entertaining, or even because it’s director
Ridley Scott’s best movie since American Gangster. It’s important
because it inspires. It’s filled with a message that science and
education will not only save your life if ever in a situation like this
(however unlikely), but it is fascinating to see how Mark Watney (Matt
Damon) uses it to survive harsh Mars conditions. Speaking of Matt Damon,
he absolutely nails Watney’s nerdy sense of humor and hopeful optimism
that keeps him alive after getting left for dead on The cold, barren
planet. I hope parents show this movie to their kids, because I could
see many future scientists getting their first spark of inspiration from
The Martian. Please, Ridley Scott, if you’re reading this, as I’m sure
you are, make more movies like this. No more ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ or
‘The Counselors’, plz.

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Mad
Max: Fury Road is EASILY the best action movie of the year, without
contest. Director George Miller (a 70 year old man, mind you) has truly
shown everyone in the business how it’s done. With a story told almost
entirely through visuals alone, a dense world filled with some new crazy
Mad Max characters and great performances by Tom Hardy and Charlize
Theron, Fury Road doesn’t let up for a second. It’s also probably the
most surprisingly feminist movie of the year, as Theron’s character is
basically the hero, on a quest to save the young female sex-slaves of
Immortan Joe from him and his ‘warboys’. Max just happens to be along
for the ride. If it weren’t for a couple other movies, this would easily
take my top spot. Fury Road is a masterpiece of cinematic storytelling,
and I hope George Miller never stops making these movies.

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Ex
Machina is probably the best science fiction movie in recent memory.
Taking concepts written about by authors like Asimov and Arthur C.
Clarke, it’s a terrifying but believable look at humanity’s future with
artificial intelligence. Where movies in the past have done so with
spectacle and over the top action, Ex Machina keeps the story small,
with only 3 characters in the entire thing. Oscar Isaac proves once
again why he is one of the best working actors today as the nuanced
bro-genius Nathan, who flies in programmer Caleb to do a Turing test on
Nathan’s most recent AI model. What transpires is a complex, twisted and
unpredictable mind game between the three of them with one of the best
endings of any movie this year. Definitely get your hands on this one
and check it out.

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There’s
a ton of ways ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ could have been a
formulaic teen dramedy. Even looking at the title made me roll my eyes a
bit when I first heard about it, but I’m so glad that I checked it out.
The movie deals with a weird kid (and his equally odd friend Earl) who
is forced to hang out with a neighbor girl who recently got diagnosed
with cancer. This movie made the list for a couple of reasons: the
characters are some of the most human, flaws and all, that I’ve seen in
any movie; especially as high school kids. It also focuses on the
outsider perspective of someone dealing with cancer, which makes for
some wildly unpredictable turns throughout the movie. This one will make
you laugh, smile, and cry, pretty much in equal measures, so don’t say I
didn’t warn you.

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This
is the reason why this list is coming a little late this year. I had to
see Tarantino’s latest if this list was to be taken seriously, and man
am I glad I did. A few friends and I got the chance to see Hateful Eight
in 70mm when it came to town for the roadshow tour. It was probably one
of the best movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. We walked into the
theater to a red ‘overture’ screen playing western music, and then the
movie just started. The 70mm presentation was amazing; bright and
vibrant, and almost panoramic the aspect ratio was so large. Aside from
just the presentation itself, the movie was gripping from minute one.
More similar to Reservoir Dogs than Django Unchained or Inglorious
Basterds, due to the small, one or two-location setting, the story
doesn’t lose steam for a second (even at 3 hours long, intermission and
all). There’s so much to talk about with Hateful Eight, but if you’re a
fan of Tarantino, you’re going to have a blast with it. It’s definitely
one of his meanest, funniest and most violent movies yet.

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Surprise, surprise. I already wrote a bunch about this one, so go read that because I’m a lazy hack.

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If
you read my write-up on this one, you know how much I loved this movie.
Not even just a great Rocky movie or boxing movie, Creed is an amazing
film on its own terms. Definitely see this one with a crowd if it’s
still possible, because you’ll be on the edge of your seat cheering by
the end of it. Creed is so good that it only falls behind Mad Max and
this last one coming up as my favorite movie of the year.

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If
you would have told me after seeing Mad Max and before seeing The Force
Awakens that neither of those movies would be my favorite of 2015, I’d
have thought you were nuts. When picking my favorite movie of the year,
it is without question The End of the Tour. If you don’t know  about it,
it follows a Rolling Stone writer named Dave Lipsky following author
David Foster Wallace on the last week of his book tour for Infinite
Jest. Having never even read Wallace, the impact this movie had on me
came out of nowhere. It is essentially just series of conversations
between the two men as they travel the country, but the characters and
dialogue are what make this movie magic. Jesse Eisenberg and especially
Jason Segal are incredible, and the fact that Segal isn’t sweeping all
the awards this season is insane to me. Wallace was a guy who just
seemed keyed into the pulse of the universe. The script is based on the
book by Lipsky so many of their conversations are taken verbatim from
the 90’s book tour. Very few movies leave you thinking about them long
after you leave the theater, but this is one of them. It had a profound
impact on me, to the point that I’ve watched It twice and still have the
urge to revisit it. Get your hands on this one as soon as you can,
because in my book, it’s a classic.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Crimson Peak

Inside Out

Ant-man

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Bridge of Spies

Straight outta Compton

It Follows

Montage of Heck

That’s
gonna do it for 2015, thanks for reading this! Hit me up with your
favorite movies or shows or whatever’s of the year, and have a great New
Years! 

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